In my high school we rural kids would go out to a dark country road and get wasted. There was plenty of beer, usually I would have at least a twelve pack. We had weed, we had cocaine. When you couldn’t stand you could go sit in your car. Often a cheerleader, a quarterback or a big defensive tackle was right next to you. We were all bonding. There was a lot of love of living on that road. Soon we would graduate, go our separate ways, not realizing those were our glory days.
To stop time I get on a treadmill at Planet Fitness. What seems like an hour passes just to find out that only five minutes have gone by. At ten minutes I tried to smile at the women next to me. I must have looked like a crazed, heavy-breathing, sweating maniac. She smiled back.
Once a promising young athlete, now I just want to do thirty minutes without rolling back, falling off and laying on the floor. Not in front of this nice lady, not today.
Matt flipped a switch on the portable Flintstone’s record player–the three forty fives dropped down, and Lean on Me played again. He and his older brother Erick were teaching me, their eleven-year-old cousin, how to play poker, and Erick was dealing. So far they had won most of the money. I came with four quarters I had hoped to use for french fries at the pool.
Later they showed me how to smoke out of a pipe. They asked me questions like, “did I see a purple rabbit?” I told them, “My eyes feel funny. Could we go eat some of the donuts I saw in your kitchen?” Everything was funny. I laughed so hard my belly ached. The third chocolate covered donut was so good.
The boat smelled like dead fish. I had never been deep sea fishing before. On our vacation in Ocean City, my father, a Navy man, decided we were going deep sea fishing. He even took us to breakfast.
It’s 1965. I’m seven, and Dad says get whatever you want. I am Dad’s fat son and he knows this will please me. Three pancakes, three strips of bacon, three eggs and four pieces of toast. I eat my brother’s toast too.
When I step on the Captain Bunting I have an overfull feeling. The boat smells and so does its crew. My brother’s eyes meet mine when a crewman passes by us: we know he is not a regular bather. He’s missing his front teeth and two fingers. He smiles at me as if he could eat me for breakfast. I smile back but not my heartwarming smile–it’s a fake smile. My brother motions to follow him and we walk to the front of the boat. There are benches with seat belts so we sit down. As the boat heads out to sea it goes way up through a wave, then way down. My brother looks at me and says I looked pale. That’s when I throw up all over my blue bathing trunks. I usually cry in these situations, but I can feel more coming so I run for the closest bathroom. My brother and I occupy both bathrooms for the entire voyage. My Dad never takes us fishing again.
The weight loss instructor looked straight at me in the group of about nine big fat women. “Stephen do you love yourself?”
They were all waiting for a goofy reply. I looked up with sadness in my eyes and said I did love myself, sometimes late at night. Then I rolled my eyes and looked guilty. This got a good laugh. We lost no weight Easter week.
The needles are turning my once perfect arm into a freakish, deformed, bumpy scar. The constant increased blood flow to that part of my body is hurting blood flow to my brain and other important organs. After a treatment my thinking is fuzzy. Then a puff of the medicinal and I don’t care anymore until morning.
I choke up when it comes time to give the toast. I would like to give a toast since it is my birthday. I turn to catch her eye and raise my glass.
Here’s to Jo. She keeps me going. She has stayed two years with a man who had it easy and now has it hard.
I could not have made it without her presence. She can always stay.